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Man turns a new leaf from alcohol, nurturing his livelihood

In the vibrant Chuka town, just like most parts of the country, the bodaboda business has assumed the main role of employment for the youth. These motorcycle riders have become key players in the community, providing convenient, efficient, and affordable transportation to commuters.

They not only transport passengers to and from their destinations but have also diversified their services, offering delivery services and even running errands for their customers.

Antony Mutugi, a rider says that the bodaboda business has become quite competitive bringing down the profit margins.

“I engage in delivery services and run errands for my customers to make more money,” Mutugi discloses to KNA, adding that he normally gets commuters in the morning and evening hours.

“In the middle of the day from 12 noon to 4 pm, the business is a bit low, and alternative engagements are necessary to keep us going,’’ Martin Mugambi, another bodaboda rider echoed Mutugi’s statement.

While most of the youth engage in economically viable activities, a few squander their hard-earned cash on alcohol which is quite unfortunate.

But ‘a stitch in time saves nine. This is the advice from Yusuf Kithagaa, a 65-year-old man who turned a new leaf after years of wasting away in alcoholism.

Born in Kaanwa village in the year 1948 Yusuf was not lucky to acquire formal education, which was a rare privilege in the then Colonial Kenya. To make ends meet, as a youth in 1963, Kithagaa, ventured into metal work then considered to be a more modern form of blacksmithing.

His workshop in the upcoming Chuka market involved making buckets, jikos and grills using scrap metal.

Being so young and energetic, he could manage to make several types and sell them all, or at least most of them before sunset. This earned him money, enough to foot his bills since life then was a bit cheaper. He later opted to settle down and have a family.

He vividly describes how he could sell the mentioned items each going at only one shilling, which was much more valuable during his heydays of youth. Being young as he was back then, and comparing to the pay he got from his cottage business, he immersed himself into excessive drinking, a habit that turned out to be difficult for him to shed despite advice given to him by many people close to him including his own wife.

Yusuf would travel away from his family to the city of Nairobi from time to time, just to have fun. In his opinion, he was enjoying the fruit of his labour. Apart from settling school fees for his children, all of his remaining income was wasted away in drinking and other leisure activities.

His wife, then a mother of five felt that this was too much and decided to move away with the children who by then were grownup. When Yusuf saw this happening, he composed himself and promised himself that he would stop hitting the bottle for the sake of his family. But already it was too late. This was really a challenge because he couldn’t stop the bad habit at once. He did it over some time.

After a few months of struggling to move away from alcoholism, Yusuf finally managed to fully do away with the vice but the question was; Would his family come back? Did he have any savings? These were the questions that crossed his mind but deep inside him, he knew none of them had a positive answer.

After a period of self-evaluation, Yusuf wondered aloud and regretted why he indulged in alcohol since all it did was waste his time and destroy his family.

He bitterly regrets that the most painful part was that, age was catching up with him and he couldn’t do much about it.

“I finally had to accept fate as it was, stop self-pity, and get back to working hard as I had once done,” he said with a resigned gesture of his hands.

Yusuf narrated how he started reporting to his work earlier than before.

“I open my makeshift workshop at 6 am. I assemble my workshop paraphernalia and by 6.30 am I am busy until as late as 6.30 pm when I take the items back to a house that I have rented on the outskirts of Chuka town,” he said adding that the house is big enough to accommodate his assorted workshop items and himself.

The morning KNA visited Yusuf, he was selling his charcoal jiko to a customer who was passing by and had gotten attracted by the display. He sold the jiko at 450 shillings, a price he said was way above the olden days when he was a youth.

The currency has really lost value. He took the notes, confirmed that they were not counterfeit by observing them against the sun, and happily with a wide smile took his handkerchief and wrapped it up. When asked why he did that, he explained that putting the money in the hanky was a precaution against loss.

Yusuf said that challenges are there in any business venture, but with hard work and self-discipline, anyone can earn an honest income and live a decent life.

He called on the youth to engage in meaningful work and avoid alcoholism since it doesn’t help. He also advises the youth to stop being picky about jobs by waiting for white-collar jobs but instead advised that they engage in any meaningful legitimate economic activity.

“Time and tide waits for no man and although life is not easy today, I call upon the youth to shun alcoholism, open their eyes, and work before their strength wastes off,” he concludes.

By David Mutwiri and Naomi Wamaitha

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